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Steam & Excursion > Venice Miniature Railway #1


Date: 11/26/04 14:12
Venice Miniature Railway #1
Author: Arkay

While looking through my slide collection I found this view of the Venice Miniature Railway #1 then operating at Legg Lake at the Whittier Narrows Recreational Area in Southern California. The photo was taken during the late 1970s. The locomotive is a 2-6-2 built in 1905 and at one time provided transportation around the seaside town of Venice, CA. Does anyone know if this engine is operating at another location?




Date: 11/26/04 16:00
Re: Venice Miniature Railway #1
Author: zephyrus

from a website on the Venice Mini Ry.:

"The train then began operation in 1972 at Legg Lake at the Whittier Narrows Recreational Area. It operated on its one mile long loop until 1978 when vandalism became a problem. Tentative plans are to exhibit it in Venice sometime this year."

http://naid.sppsr.ucla.edu/venice/articles/rail.htm

The Venice #2 is now at Billy Jones Wildcat in Los Gatos, CA.




Date: 11/27/04 16:38
Re: Venice Miniature Railway #1
Author: OnTrackEd

I very much enjoyed the photo of the VMR #1 in color at Whittier Narrows.

The #1 was operated by the McCoy family near Legg Lake between the early 70s and around 1978. Don McCoy had watched Al Smith (not Swanton/OSH Al Smith) restore the locomotive in the 30s, and it ran at Stream-Land Park in Pico Rivera, CA (exhibit in the depot museum there on the park) until sometime in the late 60s. That beautiful paint scheme was applied by Ward Kimball. The Legg Lake operation also used a gas-powered motorcar made to appear like a Pacific Electric boxcab. The #1 is currently stored in one of the McCoys' garages in El Monte, with no immediate plans that I know of. The Wildcat Railroad and the Walt Disney Company both expressed interest in the locomotive about 5 years ago. The BJWRR would still love to lease her; however, the engine is a prized posession to the McCoys, and not exactly the easiest thing to part with. I'll leave it at that.

The Venice Railway #2, or affectionately the "2-spot", was rescued a few years after Al Smith purchased the #1. The 2-spot wandered its way to a San Francisco junkyard...without a tender (the #2's tender was given to Al Smith when he purchased the #1, and that's the tender in the photo). Billy Jones, who had been with the Southern Pacific since before 1900 when the narrow-gauge subsidiary known as the South Pacific Coast ran through the Santa Cruz Mountains, was running the big 4-8-4s on the Coast Daylight to San Luis Obispo, and discovered the locomotive. He restored the locomotive to service and ran her at his ranch between 1943 and 1968. After his death, the railroad was established in Oak Meadow and Vasona Parks in Los Gatos, which is where the RR was located when I was a volunteer there at one time. There's much more to that story.

John Coit, the builder of the two Venice engines, also built a third locomotive for Eastlake Park in LA (the first, supposedly). This little 2-6-0 was numbered 1903, and is also now owned and disassembled at the Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad. Coit was also involved with an operation in Long Beach with an 0-6-0 "camelback" locomotive; not much is known about that locomotive, and some say it was rebuilt into the #1903. The locomotives' build date is listed as 1901.

I'm in the process of re-uploading my webzine site after a weeks' absence due to redesigning the site; there's an article on the Venice Railway engines as well as the Wildcat Railroad on there. I also run a site on the BJWRR in addition to that. I'd love to have that VMR #1 photo on the Venice Railway article if you'd allow me to; I give full credit, and make no profit off anything!

Thanks,
Ed Kelley
Former Volunteer, Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad
ON TRACK with Ed Kelley http://www.bjwrr.com/ontrack/




Date: 11/27/04 20:11
Re: Venice Miniature Railway #1
Author: cewherry

I'll repost this now to get a sense of continuity since both Ed Kelly and I must have hit the 'Post' buttons at the same.

This is one of a group of photos taken by my Dad in about 1945 of Venice Miniature Railway #1. At the time the locomotive was located in a lumber yard in the San Gabriel Valley. Note that the initials 'SG&ERR were shown on the side of the cab and the number 1 was only shown on the left side of the tender.




Date: 11/27/04 20:13
Re: Venice Miniature Railway #1
Author: cewherry

The engineer shown here may have been the Al Smith mentioned in the link provided by zephyrus and also in Ed Kelly's post.




Date: 11/27/04 20:16
Re: Venice Miniature Railway #1
Author: cewherry

And a final one of Venice Miniature Railway #1 circa 1945. All photos by William Wherry






Date: 11/28/04 20:27
what photos
Author: coachyard

cewherry Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> And a final one of Venice Miniature Railway #1
> circa 1945. All photos by William Wherry

All are fantastic, thanks for sharing them and your many others. Whew!



Date: 11/28/04 20:52
VMR #2
Author: OnTrackEd

For those unfamiliar with the VMR #2...here's Billy Jones with the #2 sometime in the late 50s/early 60s. The original VMR headlight was in place in the early years at the Jones ranch. When it was replaced could better date this photo. I was a volunteer at the BJWRR when I scanned this in 4 or 5years ago...and the executive director at the time got me in contact with the RR's historian, and I borrowed these photos.

Next is a photo of the #2 in the early 90s; don't worry, that Daylight paint scheme is long gone. It was painted that way because Billy Jones ran the Daylight run out of San Francisco. I sort of liked it in a strange way...

-Ed Kelley




Date: 11/28/04 20:54
Re: VMR #2
Author: OnTrackEd

Here's the #2 in a portrait taken by Phil Reader in the early 90s. This is how she appeared until 10 years ago when she was taken down for a major overhaul. A new boiler was constructed for her by Bay City Boiler and she's yet to steam on it.

-Ed Kelley




Date: 11/28/04 20:59
Re: VMR #2
Author: OnTrackEd

Here's the #2 at Venice sometime in the 1910s I presume. This photo hangs in the car shop of the Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad.

-Ed Kelley




Date: 11/28/04 21:00
Re: VMR #2
Author: OnTrackEd

Here's John Coit's other locomotive, the Eastlake Park Scenic Railway #1903 and the off-and-on Venice Railway #3. It currently resides, what's left, at the Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad.

-Ed Kelley




Date: 11/28/04 21:01
Re: VMR #2
Author: OnTrackEd

Here's another shot of the #2 at Billy Jones' ranch in Daylight paint meandering through the trees of his prune orchard.

-Ed Kelley




Date: 11/28/04 21:02
Re: VMR #2
Author: OnTrackEd

Here's a shot I took of the #2 in the park in the 90s; 20 years after the BJWRR had moved from the Jones ranch. The 2-spot is coming off the portion of the track known as "Squirrel Hill".

-Ed Kelley




Date: 11/28/04 21:04
Re: VMR #2
Author: OnTrackEd

Lastly, here's a picture showing the running gear of the 2-spot at the reopening of the BJWRR at Oak Meadow Park in 1970. The locomotive had just been completely restored by Bill Ulleseit and others in an all-volunteer effort.

-Ed Kelley




Date: 11/29/04 22:14
Re: VMR #2
Author: DNRY122

Back in the 70's (or early 80's) a co-worker told me about a "PE Red Car" running at Legg Lake. Next weekend I went down there, found the track and waited. Before I saw it, I heard it--the nostalgic sound of a PE air whistle. Then the car came around the bend--a 1/3 scale model of PE 1304, based on a combine that had been modified from a 500-class suburban car. The "express" compartment hid a Ford V-8 engine, well muffled so it didn't have the "garden tractor" sound of many models of this scale, and with power to spare to run an air compressor. Who would have thought that about 30 years later, full-scale replicas of PE 500's would be running in San Pedro?



Date: 11/30/04 06:47
Re: VMR #2
Author: OnTrackEd

The Pacific Electric car/trailer at Whittier Narrows was indeed powered by an old engine from a Ford Thunderbird. The coach bodies still exist out in the desert near Hesperia or something; the trucks (original VMR) are still owned by the McCoys, and the Thunderbird engine is also around somewhere...

The story of that interurban goes back some time. Stream-Land Park in Pico Rivera (where the #1 operated from the 40s-60s) built two enclosed coaches on the trucks (and frames?) of from original VMR coaches. The bodies were too rotted out by this time. In the 50s, one of these coaches was rebuilt into a yellow "Galloping Goose"; a railbus with a sort of 'covered wagon' nose. The McCoys acquired this and built the new Pacific Electric body, and later I guess the trailer car.

The Narrow Gauge & Short Line Gazette I believe had a 2-part article on these cars in the early 90s.

The two original VMR coaches ran at Whittier Narrows at the beginning. I understand (and from the pictures, this shows) that the coaches were rebodied; an article says for 'safety reasons', I don't know. When the Wildcat Railroad was trying to work out an arrangement to bring the #1 to Los Gatos, I was told that 'two original Venice Ry.' coaches were also in the 'package'. I'm not sure if the original bodies survived; I'm sure if they weren't rotted out that they probably did. The two coaches (whatever they are), the #1, and the tender used behind the #1 since the 30s (originally the #2s) are all stored at the McCoy's; the #1 in the garage, and I understand the rest out back.

-Ed Kelley



Date: 12/01/04 22:12
Re: VMR #2
Author: 12tonMack

The #3 ended up in a field near Scio, OR in the late 1960's, with a Model T Ford gas engine in it (steam outline). The late Mr. Bill Krause bought it, and was contacted at some point by the Los Gatos group, who were interested in it "for rebuilding". Krause leased it to them in 1972 with the condition that it be rebuilt and kept in good condition. Instead, it was totally disassembled and so it remains to this day.

Phil Barney



Date: 12/02/04 15:39
Re: VMR #2
Author: OnTrackEd

Hi Phil-
I talked to Bill Krause about 5 years ago about the #1903. I'd been a volunteer at the BJWRR for some time by this point when he contacted me saying he owned the #1903. I was never told of the #1903 being on-lease; simply 'there was an old engine out back'. The rest I learned from the folks that had been around the railroad for awhile, and old newspaper articles in research. For the many years I lived in Los Gatos, I never knew about it. Mr. Krause explained the history of how the locomotive came to be in the BJWRR's posession, and that he'd leased it for more than 20 years since his railroad was 2' gauge and he had no use for the 18" locomotive.

When I was first down there, the back junkyard was a total mess. It was cleaned up quite a bit in preparation for a shop extension (or rather office, restroom, and boardroom; which I didn't see completed yet). In this, the #1903's tender remained out back; I don't know where the boiler went, and the remaining portion of the locomotive was disassembled entirely so I presume since most of the parts, including the drivers, are on shelves in the roundhouse.

Right after I got off the phone with Bill Krause, I called up Peter Panancy, the BJWRR's executive director (newly-appointed back at this time); left the info, and his contact information. It is my understanding that the board approved the purchase of the locomotive from the 20+-year leasee, and returned the Model T engine; but I'm not certain on this. After the locomotive had by this time operated in San Bernardino, Los Angeles, and Venice throughout the years...it was listed as being sold to a Portland railroad. Until 1972, Californians had no idea as to where the locomotive had went. I was told that Bill Wulf, the local historian back in Los Gatos, was skiing up in Scio or something and saw the ornamental top of the #1903's stack, and immediately recognized it as a Coit locomotive.

I hope that someday this little locomotive will run again. Since the deal to lease the VMR #1 has pretty much died off, I'm hoping the insentive to get a second steam locomotive in operation will someday come back to the BJWRR. The #2 hasn't run in 10 years now (though hopefully will, soon)...and the line's diesel locomotive was falling apart when they ordered the new diesel 3 years ago. That locomotive is still being built; since Custom Locomotive went out of business in the middle of the job, and it took some time before the job was finally handed over to Merrick Light Railway. The railroad as I remember it most in the days when the "2-spot" ran the line is really a far cry from what it once was; when the shops would be busy at work with the #2...and from around November to March, work on the old #2 and the aging boiler (now replaced). Before the arrival of the 2502 locomotive, the railroad was entirely steam-powered; operating daily from early June until Labor Day, and weekends between April-May and Sept/Oct. The #2 is supposedly now to be weekends-only, year-round, when it finally gets back in steam. The old crew is just about all gone, or have gone inactive; some at the Swanton Pacific using their talents to maintain the Overfair equipment.

Lastly, were you down at the BJWRR about 4 or 5 years ago? I remember two visitors to the shops checking out the "2-spot" from Oregon that mentioned Ray Robinsons' RR (I didn't know about it back then) and Leo Garre's in Canby. I asked Ray if he knew of some friends that visited Los Gatos and he mentioned you'd been there to see the #2. I was a teenager doing roustabout chores at that point; and usually in the afternoons when the sun got too strong to work out on the track, I'd usually end up filling oil cans, getting grime off the #2's running gear and polishing brass, and prepping some journal boxes.

Thanks,
Ed Kelley




Date: 12/04/04 20:32
Re: VMR #2
Author: 12tonMack

Ed,
Yes, that was my wife Laurel and I on a visit to the BJWC RR a few years back, and finally I have put two and two together and realized that you're THAT Ed Kelley! You were a good host, and I have a picture of you holding #1903 in an old photograph. Good to know more of the engine's history...do you know that Bill Krause passed away this year? His 24" gauge operation was a great place to visit.

More, I'm sure, later,
Phil



Date: 12/04/04 21:01
Re: VMR #2
Author: OnTrackEd

Hi Phil-
Now I remember bringing out the 1903 picture! I first saw that picture when I was really young. I used to go out to the park every weekend to ride behind the #2 about 5 times. I learned the history of the RR when my mother would start talking to anyone; and one of those people was Jerry Kennedy, the RR's executive director at the time. It's hard to imagine I was scared of that beautiful Kinsley four-chime whistle to the point where I wouldn't take a cab ride or get within 10 feet of the 2-spot! One of those times, I stuck around to watch the engineer drop the fire and put #2 to rest for the night. The engineer that day spoke of how he worked at Roaring Camp, and took out a huge album of Venice Railway/BJWRR historical pictures from the shelf near where the crated new prime mover for the 2502 was sitting at the time you visited. Though the memory is vague, I remember that; and the shots of the #2 in what I now know as the Daylight paint. The engineer I realized years later was Phil Reader.

If you ever find that photo of me with the #1903 photo out at the park and can e-mail it over (ekelley@bjwrr.com), I'd be extremely grateful as I don't have any shots of me taken while working at the BJWRR! I'll gladly send you the full-size version of the 1903 portrait, and the other 1903 'stuff' I have.

I'm sorry to hear that Bill Krause passed away recently; real friendly guy. I didn't know of his railroad previous to speaking with him, and was glad he found a way to contact me; he told me a lot of stuff on the 1903 that I didn't know.

Thanks,
Ed Kelley



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